Bengaluru: India’s coronavirus crisis hit the country’s farmers and food supplies very hard and has left them in a hapless state. In a bid to do their bit, a company called Bayer has introduced a new initiative - ‘Better Farms, Better Lives’ to support smallholder farmers who are facing additional challenges due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

Through this initiative, Bayer will support 4,00,000 smallholder farmers in India, with free Better Life Farming care packages. In Karnataka, Bayer will support nearly 36,300 smallholder farmers cultivating corn, millet and vegetables. Special focus will be given to women smallholder farmers and migrant labourers who have returned to their villages and plan to take up farming in their small family farms.

Each smallholder farmer will receive one package containing hybrid seeds cultivated in their region and crop protection inputs. In addition, Bayer will handhold farmers from sowing to harvest with advisory on crop, disease & pest management and help improve market access for their produce.

The package will also contain face masks and personal protective equipment (PPE) to support farmers’ health and safety needs. Besides distribution of packages, Bayer will provide training to farmers to improve capacity building on the use of modern agricultural technologies.

Karnataka CM BS Yediyurappa kicked off the distribution of Bayer’s Better Life Farming care packages in the state on Monday (June 29)

"Farmers are the backbone of our economy and their efforts provide food for the community. In the current COVID-19 pandemic and with Kharif season around the corner, farmers have limited access to seeds and inputs. At such a time, Bayer has come forward and worked closely with my government to provide free seeds to smallholder farmers and ensure continuity of the cropping season. This will definitely help improve farmers’ lives and livelihoods," said Yediyurappa.

“With the ‘Better Farms, Better Lives’ initiative, Bayer will provide immediate additional support to smallholder farmers in Karnataka with access to agri-inputs and advisory during this Kharif season and beyond. This will help strengthen the livelihoods of smallholder communities most impacted by Covid-19. In the long-term, we aim to help smallholder farmers achieve higher crop yields and use their farms as a source of sustainable income, rather than just a means to survive,” said, D Narain, CEO, Bayer CropScience Limited and Global Lead for Bayer’s Smallholder Farming initiatives. 

Bayer will distribute the care packages to smallholder farmers through its network of local Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs), Farmer Producer Companies (FPCs) and local Self-Help Groups (SHGs) focused on agriculture. At a later stage, Bayer will conduct third-party impact assessment studies to evaluate the value created through this initiative in terms of food security and livelihood support.

The company seeks to expand its partnerships with governments, internationally recognized NGOs and local organizations; create a Smallholder Center of Excellence for sharing successes; provide accelerated access to digital farming tools to increase capabilities and scale up existing & new value chain partnerships to generate maximum impact.